Odiya All (Idoma Benua state) Hope you are all good. Exactly a year ago today I launched my book with my close friends and family in the UK. My family have been there for and with me; I love you and miss you all. Thank you all for the support over the past year, special thanks to Tega and John, you have been there for me through what has sometimes been a very difficult year. It is a long post today so settle down before reading……
Today was very fully in terms of my interaction with people. I learnt some new things about myself and made some new friends which were one of the objectives of the trip. The day started off well, I had a very good night’s sleep after relaxing day at the beach. I ate breakfast and tried to do some work in the morning but I was feeling a restless so I went for a swim. This is the first exercise I have done in months and I felt good, I was energised. I returned to my room and continued to work on my report. After about an hour I felt restless so I decided to go out buy some munchies from a local supermarket. I asked the young lady at the hotel reception for directions to the nearest bust stop to take me to where I wanted to go. Following the young lady’s instructions, I walked to the bus stop, there was only one bus there with a conductor touting for customers. I tapped him on the shoulder and asked him if the bus was going to the army cantonment. Brashly he said “enter” pointing to the backseat. I took my seat at the back but the bus didn’t move for another 10 minutes as the driver waited for more customers so the bus could be full. Only one more customers entered during that time and the driver only moved when the customers began to complain. I asked the gentleman next to me how much the fare was. =N=50!!! He saw that I was holding a =N=100 note, and he said “take his =N=50 from him” pointing at the man sitting on my right. I was confused, why would I take money from a total stranger I thought. He suddenly took the =N=100 note from my hand while repeating his previous statement but in a more stern tone “take the money from him now haaa”. I only realised what was going on when the passengers in front of me began passing money forward to the driver and stating how many people it was for. The gentleman was actually trying to be helpful; he was helping me to make change. I got off at my stop and began to walk in a direction which was familiar.
I crossed the road (I have become more adept at doing this) and walked into a local fast food joint. I asked the door man where I could find a supermarket. He pointed in a far off direction and offered to get me a taxi. He hailed a taxi on my behalf and I had to tell the taxi driver I didn’t need him yet. I decided continue my search for a supermarket across the road. The point I wanted to cross was heavy with traffic, I saw a group of people waiting at a spot and I assumed that they were trying to cross. I felt it would be better if I crossed the road with them, safety in number and all that. I waited with them for about a minute and nobody budged even when the road was relatively clear, I thought that there must be a good reason for them not crossing so I waited a little longer. They began to shift sideways as a yellow danfo (transport bus) approached and before it even stopped they were fighting to get on the bus. * (I had a momentary flashback to the first time I took a book at Bashorun market over 22 years ago). This was when I realized it was a bus-stop.
I crossed the road but my search for a supermarket was fruitless so I returned to the fast food joint. I purchased some snacks and as I stepped outside the taxi driver was waiting for me. I asked him how much it would cost to take me back to my hotel. Looking at me with his beady eyes, he said “=N=1700”. “What you smoking”? I exclaimed. “Don’t worry I will walk, 1700, you must be nuts”. I would rather walk, it is just down there. “Ok, ok pay 1,000.” “1 000?? “Oga I beg move, I go walk”. “Ok ok, how much you wan pay” he asked meekly. I will pay you =N=500. “Ok enter”. With that I entered the cab and few short minutes later I was at the gates of my hotel.
This is where my day became interesting . I went to hotel bar to buy a bottle of water. While there I got talking to a young lady called Lucy behind the bar, she said something which was I found profound. “She said that I never talked to people, I only ordered things and left”. I was not upset because people have told me all my life that sometimes come across standoffish. I apologised for my perceived aloofness and I introduced myself. We got to chatting and I also introduced myself to the bar man, Alan. I really enjoyed talking to them and the seemed to enjoy my company, Lucy just laughing at anything I was saying. I made a point to introduce myself to the receptionist who had given me directions earlier and apologised for not doing it earlier.
G picked me up and we went to the watch the West Brom vs Arsenal match at the local sports bar. (Arsenal drew but Spurs lost so I will count that as a good day, there are no Spurs fans here in Nigeria so I should be safe!!!!) We were joined by my friend Bisi and after the match we returned to the hotel. Bisi and I went bar and I continue my earlier conversation with Alan and Lucy. Alan gave me some insightful advice which I really appreciated and I introduced myself to young lady called Veronica. (Prettiest smile I have seen a while). While talking to my new friends, I realised something about myself, I have the ability to draw people to me if I don’t think about it. I am sometimes too aware of myself which sometimes makes it difficult for me to engage with people. At the bar, I was talking without thinking and these people were fully engaged, they seemed to find me interesting and funny which made me feel good. As I told them about my day they just kept on laughing at my stories. A young man named Peter joined our conversation, within 30 mins I was friends with 5 new people without even trying. They were all interested in reading my blog and I amazed as Lucy laughed when she read parts of my posts on my phone. They saw a copy of my book and they were so interested in reading it I felt compelled to give them a copy to read. Peter began to laugh when he read the forward. They were all appreciative for my gesture but I am truly grateful because they have made this a day that I won’t soon forget ……………………. Till tomorrow KKB out.
*those who have read Memoirs of a Young African will understand.